The 2018 Bourbon Bucket List

A calendar of must-do events for American whiskey enthusiasts
Mount Vernon Distillery

All photos by Maggie Kimberl. 

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is already behind us. Last year I checked Fred Minnick’s Legends Series at the Kentucky Derby Museum off my 2017 bucket list, graduated from Michael Veach’s Bourbon Country Institute, attended the fifth annual Bourbon Classic, explored New Orleans’ bourbon scene, and learned how to make a whiskey sour at the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse. I learned where bitters come from, toured a local food business accelerator where bourbon marshmallows are made, and broke down whiskey to its basic ingredients at The Kentucky Bourbon Festival. But even with as much as I learned last year, there’s always more to do. Here is my bourbon bucket list for 2018:

  1. Buffalo Trace will host its annual Legendary Craftsmen dinner series. January 12th is the Weller dinner, January 19th is the Sazerac dinner featuring Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House chefs from New Orleans, and January 26th is the E.H. Taylor dinner.
  2. Bourbon Classic

    The Legends Series at the Kentucky Derby Museum is back and the guests are all new. February 16th features Wes, Kyle, and Andrew Henderson of Angel’s Envy. March 15th features Fred and Freddie Noe of Jim Beam. March 29th features Evan Kulsveen of Willett Distillery.

  3. Michael Veach is reviving the Bourbon Salon at Oxmoor Farm series every other month through December. February’s topic will be Old Bottles And Collecting. April’s topic will be Bourbon in Food. June’s topic will be The New Whiskey Row. August’s topic will be Women Distillers. October’s topic will be Bourbon Cocktails. And December will feature a Repeal Day party.
  4. The Bourbon Classic is growing bigger and better every year. I always look forward to the cocktail and small plates competition on Friday and the breakout sessions on Saturday!
  5. KY Bourbon Festival

    The New Orleans Bourbon Festival is back and it’s going to be better than ever! There will be food, bourbon, and lots of new bourbon friends to make, not to mention bourbon and cigar pairing classes taught by yours truly!

  6. Moonshine University offers a multitude of classes, including the 6 day distillers course for anyone who seeks the experience of distilling from grain to bottle or anyone who thinks they might want to start their own distillery.
  7. Tour George Washington’s Mount Vernon Distillery to learn what distillation was like using only a wood fire as fuel. If you’re lucky, you might be able to pick up a bottle of the authentically distilled rye whiskey at the gift shop!
  8. Jack Rose in D.C.

    Last year at the Kentucky Bourbon Affair I threw axes at Jeptha Creed Distillery and attended my first Whisky Live USA. The year before that I shot skeet with the Russels at Wild Turkey. Who knows what kind of bourbon badassery I will get myself into this year?

  9. Visit the top whiskey bars outside of Kentucky, including Jack Rose in D.C., The Century Bar in Dayton, Delilah’s in Chicago and the Flatiron Room in New York City.
  10. I always love attending the barrel rolling competition and the Master Distiller’s Auction at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. And who knows, maybe I will finally get around to attending the black tie gala this year!
Bonus: The Bourbon and Beyond Festival – This is more about the music than the bourbon, but there will be major headliners from both! Last year’s headliners included Stevie Nicks and there was a Mashed Stage for bourbon headliners and demonstrations as well as a speakeasy style bar.

If we missed anything, please let us know! Cheers!

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